Pakistan

KARACHI – The key accused in the Hajj corruption scam Ahmed Faiz has been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment here on Friday.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) presented Faiz in the court of the special judge (Central) where he was sentenced to three decades in prison. A penalty of Rs 40.53 million was also announced on the key accused.

It is relevant to mention that former Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi was already sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Other accused, former DG Hajj Rao Shakeel and former Additional Secretary Religious Affairs Aftab Ahmad, were also sentenced to 40 and 16 years in prison in the same case, respectively.

Announcing the verdict, Special Judge Nazir Ahmad said that the accused were guilty of embezzling money while making arrangements for Hajj in 2010.

The Hajj corruption scandal had surfaced in 2010 when former Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati levelled corruption allegations against then Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi.

As a result of the exchange of accusations between sitting ministers, then Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked both Kazmi and Swati from their offices.

Reacting to Swati’s allegations, the Supreme Court had also taken suo moto notice of the case. Hamid Saeed Kazmi was arrested by authorities and investigated, however, he was released on bail in August 2012.

The apex court had instructed the FIA to prosecute the case in a trial court, and directed the government return the extra amount paid by Hajj pilgrims.

Earlier in 2010, Saudi Prince Bandr bin Khalid bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud had also written a letter to then Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, stressing that there was undeniable evidence of corruption on the part of Pakistani Hajj officials.